JACKSON, Mich. — It’s been a little over a year since Andy’s Place Apartments opened its doors for people who needed a place to support their journey into recovery.
Now, the tenants say they want to give back to the person who made it possible: Mike Hirst.
“It’s helped me change my life completely,” Brandy Sibson said, who was one of the first people who moved in.
“Everything you need is here. Support, friends and recovery. It’s everything I could ask for,” she said. “I had a few DUIs, went through rehab and transitional and was recently going through a divorce. This was my starting grounds to a new life.”
Brandy isn’t the only person who says Andy’s Place gave them another chance.
“It’s very important. It’s turned my life around. If it wasn’t for this place, I probably wouldn’t even be here today,” Matthew Sauceda said.
Katrina Bowen was offered the position of residential manager through treatment court and was also one of the first people to move in. She jumped at the chance because she wanted to give back to a community that helped her.
“Without him a lot of things wouldn’t happen,” she said. “I know he’s a key player for a whole new vision here. He helps quite a bit. He did a whole thing for Cedar Point over the summer for the residents here. They didn’t have to come out of pocket for anything. He’s key to showing people that we can live sober.”
The tenants came together to give Hirst a few gifts for the holidays as a gesture of confidence in his vision.
“It takes a special person to do things for people they don’t know like that,” Sibson said. “I think he really can relate to people in recovery and understand that life isn’t always as we want it to be and to kind of try and pick people up. I think he’s an idol. I think he’s someone that people look up to. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel and there’s help if you want to reach out.”
Bowen said, without Andy’s Place, a lot of the tenants would be back out on the streets.
“Mike is very giving. He doesn’t hesitate when people need something. He started Andy’s Angels in memory of son. I feel that he is very key to the recovery community. He’s an awesome man. Just well rounded. He presents himself very well. He’s very caring,” she said.
Hirst is proud to see the community come together over the past year.
“Seeing their neighbors fall down on one knee and helping their neighbor get back up on two feet, that’s important,” he said. “I see that happen in here now. This is what I dreamed up. This is what I dreamed could happen. To see it actually happen now, this is fantastic.”
He was overwhelmed by seeing a year’s worth of progress on display.
“To see somebody that would be in jail, in a horrible place in life or dead and to know that you had something to do with preventing that to happen, by creating this opportunity and build their lives back up, how do you explain that? How do you say anything about that other than, well I mean, it’s just amazing. It’s wonderful. It’s everything we hoped for as a family,” Hirst said.
Mike says all he wanted to do was bring change in how to handle people who are in recovery.
“We wanted to do something to change this community, to change this state and to change this country and these people are doing it,” he said.
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